Love Me, Love Me Not
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 19th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Family, abandonment, and forbidden romance are at the core of SM Koz’s powerful and emotionally charged novel about a teen who falls for her foster brother.
When Hailey Brown is removed from her home and put into foster care, all she wants is a safe, comfortable place where she can finish school and move on with her life. It’s not easy adjusting to a new school and a new life, but Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and their teenage son, Brad, welcome Hailey with open arms.
As Hailey begins to adjust to her new life, she and Brad grow closer. For the first time, Hailey feels like she might have a real shot at a future. Soon, however, Hailey realizes her relationship with Brad has crossed the line from friendship into something more. But being with Brad would mean giving up the perfect life that Hailey has waited so long to have.
Can Hailey and Brad resist the feelings that are developing between them—or will they risk it all to be together?
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, SM Koz delivers a powerful debut about the ups and downs of being a foster child.
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“There’s plenty of room over here,” Brad says, motioning to the sofa.
Just then, a loud howl cracks through the night, sounding like it’s practically in the backyard. I jump to my feet without a second thought and leap onto the sofa next to him.
He laughs and puts his arm around my shoulders. “They’re mostly harmless,” he says.
“Then I should go back over there,” I reply, motioning to the chair.
“I mean, they’re vicious animals,” he says with a squeeze. “Stick with me and I’ll keep you safe.”
He’s joking, but I do feel safer. I always feel safe next to him. Whether it’s coyotes or Chase, he seems to know exactly what to do. I’m not sure how he convinced Chase to stay away, but I haven’t seen or heard from him since that awful night.
“Thanks,” I murmur.
“Anytime. I’d hate for your beautiful face to be mauled by a coyote.”
I wasn’t talking about right now, but I don’t want to discuss Chase and how Brad kept him away, so I nod and snuggle into his side, enjoying how he called me beautiful. It’s stupid, I know, but I’m not used to someone talking to me like that. It makes me feel different. Better. Like I finally really matter to someone.
He rests his chin on the top of my head and rubs my shoulder.
In the back of my mind, I think this should be awkward, but it feels completely comfortable. Like this is just a natural extension of our friendship. I sigh and enjoy his warmth and his clean scent mixed with the smell of campfire as I let my heart take control again for a few minutes until the others return.
“This is nice,” he says. “Did my list of pros win you over?”
“No. I’m still taking everything under consideration. There’s the list of cons, too, you know.”
“Right. The con that at some point in the future we might have a fight that might somehow make things a little awkward. That definitely outweighs all the pros,” he says, rolling his eyes.
“You forgot the con of me possibly getting kicked out.”
“My parents aren’t going to kick you out.”
“They don’t need to know.”
I angle my body toward him to see his face. “For real?”
He grins at me. “Yeah, we’ll have a covert relationship. We’ll be like spies living two different lives: friends whenever anyone else is around and . . . more when it’s just us.”
“How very James Bond of you,” I reply with a laugh. He can’t be serious.
“I am a big fan of James Bond.”
“Well, you do have the dashing good looks and a way with the opposite sex.”
“Don’t forget how good I am at handling myself in a brawl, too.”
“So, a secret relationship, then?” he asks, his eyes filling with hope.
“People would find out.”
“Abbie could hear you talking to Adam, then she could tell Michelle, then the whole world would know.”
He shakes his head. “I won’t tell Adam.”
“Don’t you tell him everything?”
“Yeah,” he replies with a shrug, “but I can make an exception for this.”
I’m not sure, but I think there’s a rule against dating someone if you can’t tell your best friend about that person. If not, there should be. It probably means it’s the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
“It still seems like a really bad idea.”
“Then you haven’t thought about it long enough. Keep thinking.”
I smile at his answer. He’s going to be persistent. I should probably find that annoying, but knowing someone cares enough to keep trying has the opposite effect. It sends a warm rush through my chest.
“This is nice,” I reluctantly say, scooting closer. It’s just snuggling. That’s not so bad, right? We’re just sitting next to each other, talking, and his arm happens to be around my shoulders and my head happens to be on his chest.
“Would you be totally opposed to me kissing you right now?” he asks.
And there’s the problem with snuggling.
SM KOZ is a medical writer from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and numerous pets. She has a BS in Biology from Duke University and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, photographing nature and her family, gardening, travelling, and attempting, usually unsuccessfully, to decorate birthday cakes. Love Me, Love Me Not is her first traditionally published novel.
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